Light the Night: 20 years of hope and awareness

Human Interest

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raises money for cancer treatments

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of people walked across the Tilikum Crossing Saturday evening for the 20th annual Light the Night Walk.

The walk, put on by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raised money for cancer treatments. The paper lanterns participants carried help to bring light to the darkness of cancer.

“This event is about raising awareness about blood cancers, celebrating the survivors, and raising money to fund the mission of LLS,” said oncologist Kate Kolibaba.

It’s a special night, not just to raise awareness of the diseases, but to show support for those who are currently battling cancer—fighters of all ages.

“We all have our own personal reasons for being here, for coming out,” said host Craig Walker. “But our focus is singular – to show Portland, southwest Washington, and the whole world that we want to see the end of cancer!”

“Our lanterns of gold, white, and red represent our reasons for lighting the night,” said Walker.

Those who walked with white lanterns are cancer survivors. The red lanterns are a symbol for friends and supporters, while others carried gold lanterns to remember those who have lost their lives to blood cancers. During Walker’s speech, he paused and asked each group of lantern holders to take a turn raising their lanterns high in the air, bringing visibility to the variety of participants.

Brenna Messner, a Lake Oswego senior, was among those who were lighting the sky with white lanterns. She recently had brain surgery to remove a tumor.

“I’m thrilled to tell you that my body shows no signs of cancer,” Messner said before cheering. “Being connected with LLS and Light the Night has been such an important part of my cancer journey—I’m so proud to be here with you all tonight.”

The crowd gathered outside of OMSI and then folks paraded over the Tilikum Crossing with flashing necklaces, supportive shirts, and, of course, their lanterns. The night ended with a fireworks show over the river.

If you weren’t able to attend in person, you can watch the full live-stream of the walk below and learn more about the event.

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